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Revelers kick-start the holiday season with Santa, snow play at annual Festival in Lights

Revelers kick-start the holiday season with Santa, snow play at annual Festival in Lights
Rory, Harry and Fraser Small get candy canes and tell Santa what they'd like for their first Christmas in the United States Friday at the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce's 24th annual Festival in Lights. (Ross A. Benson / La Cañada Valley Sun)

Friday evening, La Cañada residents Chris and Heidi Small packed up young sons Rory, 5, 4-year-old Harry and Fraser, 2, and headed over to Memorial Park not knowing what kind of holiday fun awaited them there.

Having just moved to the city from a London suburb in May, the couple had heard about but never seen firsthand the splendid spectacle that is the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce’s Festival in Lights, now in its 24th year. They were not disappointed.

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“This is our first Christmas in America,” Chris Small said. “I love it.”

Keen to make the kids’ Christmas wishes known, the Smalls were among the first to sit on Santa’s lap to place their requests for Transformers and Ghostbusters-themed toys and receive candy canes, specially reserved for those on the “nice” list.

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The family quickly learned there’s a little something for everyone when it comes to winter revelry, from a visit with Old St. Nick and Mrs. Claus (who officially threw the switch, bathing the park in the warm glow of lights and decorations) and a live reindeer, to snowball fights and carols with singers on loan from La Cañada and Paradise Canyon elementary schools.

La Cañada resident Katherine Feng said Friday’s festival was a first for her, daughter Sofie, 8, and 6-year-old son Jacob, but wasn’t likely to be the last.

“I got to feed a reindeer!” exclaimed Sofie.

The pair thrilled over snow play and while Jacob didn’t get to make a real snowman, he did sling some powder and “only slipped one time.”

Pat Anderson, president and chief executive of the chamber, said this year’s festival was packed full of families looking for some yuletide cheer, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

“It’s cold but not too cold,” she said Friday. “Just perfect for families enjoying themselves—and that’s what it’s all about.”

For five young women, the evening’s lights lent an air of majesty to their regal ambitions as the chamber called out their names as the five members of the 2019 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court.

The 2019 Miss LCF Royal Court members, from left, Kat Hightower (Campbell Hall), Audrey Raulli (LCHS), Sarah Peck (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy), Sophie Lin (Flintridge Preparatory School) and Francesca Christensen (Flintridge Sacred Heart).
The 2019 Miss LCF Royal Court members, from left, Kat Hightower (Campbell Hall), Audrey Raulli (LCHS), Sarah Peck (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy), Sophie Lin (Flintridge Preparatory School) and Francesca Christensen (Flintridge Sacred Heart). (Ross A. Benson / La Cañada Valley Sun)

The winners, selected from among 13 finalists, were Audrey Raulli, Sarah Peck, Francesca Christensen, Sophie Lin and Kat Hightower.

One court member will be crowned Miss La Cañada Flintridge at a special coronation ceremony during the chamber’s 107th Installation, Awards and Coronation Gala on Jan. 17.

As children danced Friday evening around a resplendently decorated Memorial Park gazebo to carols from local band Misplaced Priorities, La Cañada City Councilman Jon Curtis took a moment to ponder his holiday wish for the city.

“I wish for continued happiness, joy and innovation, and to keep building and improving the quality of life that exists in this town,” Curtis said.

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